The world is a wee bit crazy right now. Twenty-four-hour news about completely insane things. Communities split down the middle with differing beliefs and opinions. Families struggling to “leave politics at the door” when they gather for this holiday born out of gratitude.

And frankly, I might be the most vocal of all, not afraid to share my passionate thoughts with anyone who might be inclined to listen. It was how I was raised. My mother taught us to pay attention to the world around us and who we elected to make crucial decisions for our community, state and country. We formed these opinions over dinner table discussions, sometimes quite heated.

Share wisdom instead of opinions

I have an idea. Why don’t we all plan to do more listening than talking this Thanksgiving? Pledge to be the starter of conversations, not the focal point of them. Let’s ask influential people in our life to share their wisdom. They might be 80 years old, or five years old. Everyone has an interesting story. Let’s take time to learn more about why people live the life they live. You can have this discussion with the entire group, or invite one person to share their story.

Let’s ask questions like:

  • Name one or two people who have been most influential in your life. Why?
  • Can you name your favorite Thanksgiving ever?
  • Has your life turned out like you thought it would when you were a child?
  • What is the most memorable thing your parents taught you?

A sample of what you might learn

I asked my colleagues to share something they learned from a parent or mentor. Here are a few of the answers:

Stephen

From one of my mentors, Frank, I learned to challenge those thoughts that don’t serve me well. The average person has 90,000 thoughts a day. Most of those thoughts are unhelpful and ought to be recycled and replaced with new thoughts that inspire happiness and positive change.

Denise A

You are the only one who can decide how your day is going to go.

Denise B

We hear all the time that we are responsible for our own happiness, but many of us don’t really live that way. Once I started to realize that I was the one who needed to become who I wanted to be and create a life that made me happy, my life changed completely.

Diane

From her mom: Every person I meet has the potential to be my best friend. I just have to get to know them. It doesn’t matter who they are or how old they are or what they look like, they all have the potential to be my best friend.

Me

From my mom (always keeping things short and sweet): Work hard. Be nice.

Share your favorite lessons together

I’m sure you all have these favorite “lessons” and we have a great opportunity to share them this Thanksgiving.

StoryCorps, the national nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world, is once again hosting The Great Thanksgiving Listen.

StoryCorps Thanksgiving Listen

Interviews become part of the StoryCorps Archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Since 2015, The Great Thanksgiving Listen has grown from an experimental challenge issued by founder Dave Isay, into a vital intergenerational movement. To date, they have preserved more than 100,000 interviews, providing families with a priceless piece of personal history.

Here’s how this works

  • Log into the StoryCorps Great Thanksgiving Listen.
  • It will show you how to download the StoryCorps App.
  • You will be given instructions on how to record a story with an elder or a loved one in your life.
  • Tag your story with the keyword THEGREATLISTEN2018 and you can decide if you want to send it to StoryCorps or simply keep it for yourself and your memories.

I did a test with a friend and it was amazing how quickly we forgot that we were recording and how easily we fell into a great conversation. I can’t wait to have a similar conversation with a loved one on Thanksgiving.

Let’s do this

Let’s listen this week and be prepared to be amazed. Because all of us have a great story. We just need someone to ask.

Happy Thanksgiving.

From all the Hailey Sault-perstars.